Sound — 9
Primus fans are about to get another satisfying fix of the band that has not put out a full-length album of originals since 1999. Along with the release of its best-of CD package They Can't All Be Zingers, a new DVD that is even a more fascinating glimpse of bassist Les Claypool, guitarist Larry LaLonde, and drummer Tim Alexander. Blame It On The Fish will take you on stage, off stage, and into absolutely foreign areas that would only seem appropriate in a Primus DVD. The music is absolutely breathtaking on the DVD, and it does capture each band member's unique way of tackling their instruments. While the execution is pretty much flawless, there is a murky quality to the stage sound. It actually fits fairly well when accompanied with the footage of images like flowers and spooky sculptures spliced into the live segments. The vocals probably do get hidden beneath the other instruments at the same time, however, and you might not always be able to make out the lyrics if you haven't heard much of Primus' music before. While the songs on the DVD are not usually played through their entirety, key solo sections are usually give the spotlight on Blame It On The Fish, and that is a hugely important element. By allowing their unique sounds to be featured allows viewers to hear and see the talent of the individual players. One of the best moments comes in Bob, when the camera focus on Claypool, who is feverishly slapping away while a bass tech stands by attentively. The sound of Claypool's bass comes out beautifully, which is what many Primus fans will find one of the most essential elements. The DVD contains an interesting mix of songs, all of which translate well into the video medium. While the titles won't be familiar to everyone given that many of the songs are highly experimental in sound, they will likely be memorable by the end of the DVD. Along with the more well-known Jerry Was A Racecar Driver, you'll also see live interpretations of the songs Hello Skinny, De Anza Jig, and Over The Electric Grapevine.
Content — 10
Described as an abstract look at Primus' 2003 Tour De Fromage, Blame It On The Fish is just that. While other bands tend to go all the way in one direction -- whether choosing to show a collection of videos or a complete live show -- Primus takes a very different approach. To commemorate the tour that reunited the 3 members of the band after a 7-year hiatus, the DVD provides an ever-changing video package full of live footage, little snippets of interviews, and a medley of images that you'll have to watch at least a few times in order to take it all in. An odd, but somehow fitting addition is a mock interview with Les Claypool done supposedly in the year 2065. With Claypool in full makeup to make him appear like an elderly man, the vocalist/bassist recounts little stories of his time with Primus. The format might be hokey to some, but these moments actually reveal a lot of heartfelt, interesting facts about he and the band. And because the DVD is full of songs that are basically pages out of the band's history, the trip down memory lane by an old Les Claypool works. One of the best moment comes when Claypool answer the question of whether he and the bandmates bring out the best in each other. He responds, No, we bring out the Primus in each other. Some viewers may not like the abstract approach to the DVD, with the multiple camera views that often morph into nature scenes. If you like your concert footage laid out in a straightforward approach, Blame It On The Fish will leave you rather annoyed. But it's likely that Primus fans are pretty open-minded in the first place and will embrace the unorthodox approach to the DVD. One of the most surprising aspects is that the bonus footage is a whole other feature DVD in itself. It is literally a continuation of the story, only with more interviews, live performances, and quirky images. Viewers will be treated to songs such as Fish On and Fizzle Fry, with even more solos by the band -- and many of them go completely uninterrupted by any artistic video footage. So it you're looking for more the genuine concert experience, the bonus footage might be where you want to start.
Production Quality — 9
The production is definitely avante garde in many ways, but it does make for a fascinating watch. Director Matthew J. Powers conveys the spirit of the band well in his eclectic approach, showing the band through a series of different cameras -- some that look amazingly professional and others that are purposely amateurish. By not sticking with just one lens, the DVD is actually able to maintain an energy that is lost when filmmakers opt for just a few camera angles. There is nothing poorly done on Blame It On The Fish, but the nontraditional quality may not be for everyone. If you're a fan of Primus, you'll likely be sucked in any case every time that the band begins to play.
Overall Impression — 9
If you haven't been initiated into the world of Primus, Blame It On The Fish is definitely a crash course that you won't quickly forget. While the footage is at first unsettling, it's amazing how well it works once the music begins to play. The jazz-like quality of the band with their solo experimentation is something that you can only really appreciate if you see Claypool, LaLonde, and Alexander go at it live. Blame It On The Fish captures Primus for the enigma that it is. The DVD never sticks to one particular format and seems to enjoy throwing a bunch of nonsensical images along the way. And that's kind of the fun of it, to figure out what they'll possibly show next There's not much in the way of singles if that's more of what you're after, but it's easy to find a lot more to appreciate about Primus when you hear them play songs other than John The Fisherman. But even when it doesn't make sense, the songwriting and musicianship is undeniably phenomenal.